- People who are spreading gossip (and most peopledo at some time or another) don’t spend a lot of time getting facts. In fact, they have usually heard the information they’re spreading second or third hand.
- There’s also a difference between blowing off steam about a person or incident with a trusted friend and spreading toxic misinformation (or one-sided information) to a bunch of people. Unless someone is dangerous (they’re a rapist or an abuser or thief), you don’t usually need to air your conflicts.
- For example: telling people that you heard Harry from accounting was cheating on his wife is malicious gossip (even if it is true, people don’t need to know that). Now, if you are Harry’s wife and you find out that he is cheating on you, you can tell people (especially people like family if they ask why you’re getting divorced, or to clear it up if Harry starts saying that he initiated the divorce because you were cheating).
- Some questions to consider about your information: Would I say this to their face? Is it harmful? is it substantiated (can you support the gossip with actual facts, instead of just hearsay)? Am I doing this to make myself feel better or raise my status? Is this something that I’ve heard second or third-hand?
- If you’re gossiping because it puts you at the center of attention, or boosts your ego, you need to stop. That’s where the harmful aspects of gossip come in. Imparting information is one thing (example: “Did you hear that they’re adding a new wing to the library?” or “Did you hear that Christian was hospitalized? You should send him a card.”) but harmful gossip is another (example: “I heard that Sandra slept with like all of Human Resources; it’s why she’s getting a raise and we aren’t.”).
- For example: If you find yourself constantly talking about how Jane is such a slut and is always attracting boys, stop and ask yourself, what’s the problem here? Is it because you’re jealous of the attention given to Jane? Does Jane even want such an interest? Even if Jane does sleep with a variety of guys, what does that have to do with you?
- You really want to get to the root of the problem, especially if it is something that has been ongoing (especially if you’ve been gossiping about the same person or situation over and over again).
4Do something about the problem. Sometimes, instead of just venting to every person you meet, you should figure out a solution to the root problem. This may require talking to the person about whom you’re gossiping, but it can often foster a more healthy and trusting network of relationships.
- Sometimes what you have to do is remove someone out of your life. For example, instead of talking about how rude and inconsiderate your ex-girlfriend was (and still is), you stop engaging with her, de-friend her on Facebook, and delete her out of your phone. This way, instead of wasting energy talking to people about her, you move on to talking about things that are more fun.
5Give yourself a gossip specific time limit. If you can’t help but talk about a certain person or a certain time limit, set yourself a specific amount of time to talk about it. Once that time is up, you’re finished and you can focus your energies on something more positive.
- Begin to start limiting yourself to between 2 and 5 minutes for talking about this (per day if possible). Do not give yourself the same amount of time for each person.